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What To Pack for a Day Hike

Zach and I like to think we've mastered the Day Hike. A Day Hike can mean a lot of things, but it pretty much falls under the umbrella of any hike that can be completed within the day, whether it be 5 miles or 15 miles.

I remember when I first started hiking, I thought Day Hike meant a hike that took all day. It made me feel REALLY good about my hiking skills when I'd finish those hikes in an hour... Lol!

Whether you're going for a quick 2 miler or an 18 mile excursion, the magic ingredients for what to pack won't change much (except for quantities). Read more to find out what I pack on every day hike!

What to Pack for a Day Hike

I have 10 Day Hike Essentials that I pack on every trek, whether long or short.

After countless hikes in different climates, I've curated the perfect list for my needs, and hopefully this will be helpful for any new hikers who aren't sure what they might need (or want)!

You'll notice that I didn't include "Proper Clothing" or "Hiking Attire" on this. I think clothing can be a judgment call and truly depends on the season, where you're hiking, and what your preferences are.

Just remember to choose sweat-wicking clothing and have layers that you can take off! (I always get warmer than I think I will).

Other than appropriate Clothing, find out what else you'll need on your hike!

1. Hiking Shoes

Zach will disagree, but in my opinion, Hiking Shoes are the most important! Ok - maybe water is a little more important, but still, it's so important to have shoes with support, especially on more difficult hikes.

What to Pack for a Day Hike - Merrell Hiking Boots
Post-Hike, Unwashed Merrell's

I am overly obsessed with my Merrell's. I have the Merrell Women's Moab 2 Ventilator in Taupe. Let me tell you - these have never let me down. They've been on some great, long hikes, and they're still holding up perfectly. They did take some breaking in, but that is to be expected, and it was a much quicker process than other brands I've tried.

I've had Columbia Hiking Shoes in the past, as well as some off brands from Amazon. For new hikers, I think any shoes dedicated to Hiking will suffice!

2. Camelbak

This is a game changer! I love a good Camelbak, but any hydration backpack will work just fine - just make sure you read reviews before purchasing!

On shorter hikes, you can get away with just carrying a water bottle or throwing one in a backpack, but any decent Day Hike will require a Camelbak. You'll want to easy access to hydration, in addition to avoiding a clunky and heavy water bottle. Hydration packs also usually have just enough compartments to hold all of the essentials you'll need for your Day Hike, which is another win.

What to Pack for a Day Hike - Camelbak

There are a bunch of different size options for Camelbaks and Hydration Packs.

I have the Camelbak Rogue, 85 oz. It's extremely light, breathable, and typically holds enough water for hikes less than 12-15 miles. It's currently on Amazon ranging from %50-$100, but definitely look around for cheaper options.

Zach has a brand called Quest (sold at Dick's Sporting Goods), and his is a bit larger and much cheaper. I will say that his is not as convenient when adding water, but it's always done the job and kept him hydrated on the trail.

If you don't already have a hydration pack, you'll want to invest in one if you're planning any Day Hikes!

3. Energizing Snacks

Ah, snacks. My favorite! The amount of food you bring depends on how long of a hike you have planned, but think things like jerky, energy bars/granola bars, pretzels.

I love to bring any type of fruit - apples, bananas, etc., but just remember that if you do, you'll need to carry it back with you as many long trails do not have trash cans.

Zach and I try to overpack on the food, because you never know when you might really need that burst of energy. Make sure you eat a protein-filled meal before your hike, too!

4. Advil

Typically I need this after my hikes, but I always bring a mini bottle with me in my Camelbak. I've had instances where I've gotten pain in a foot or a bad headache and having Advil with me was really helpful.

5. Band-aids / Small First Aid Kit

Band-aids are essential. I've learned this lesson the hard way, but now I ALWAYS keep a bunch with me. If you happen to get a blister or feel one beginning, it is so helpful to be able to prevent it (or help with the pain!) using a band-aid.

Even though my Hiking shoes are broken in, I still have days where I feel the back of my ankles start to hurt. I try to carry a few regular band-aids as well as some specific to ankles.

In addition, it doesn't hurt to keep a small first aid kit with neosporin in case of emergencies, but this is more necessary for long Day Hikes.

Confirmed: Zach and I went on a hike in the Bay Area last week and he got a small cut on his finger from moving a fallen tree on the trail - he was SO thankful I had bandaids with me! ;)

6. Phone/Apple Watch/GPS

Trust me - you'll want to be able to track your mileage in addition to have some sort of GPS in case you get lost! (And I use my phone for photos, which is equally as important)!

I always bring my Apple Watch and my phone. If you download the AllTrails app, you'll be able to see exactly where you are on a trail using your GPS!

7. Tissues

Tissues are multi-functional which is great. If you happen to get a cut, you can use them before applying a band-aid.

Zach and I have hiked in some pretty cold November weather in Maine, and tissues were my best friend. Runny noses are inevitable and I always kept one in my pocket and the rest of the travel sized tissue bag in my Camelbak.

8. Chapstick

Chapped lips can happen in all temperatures (and when you're dehydrated)! I can't tell you how happy I am to always have chapstick or Burt's Bees with me. It can be so frustrating worrying about painful lips when you're trying to enjoy a hike.

It definitely helps to keep this one with you.

9. Small Tripod

This one is totally up to you, but Zach and I try not to hike without one! It can be so hard for couples to get decent photos, and getting a tripod has allowed us to get perfect shots with both of us in them.

We have 2 small tripods - one is a bit bulkier but fully extends and one is only about a foot tall but flexible if you need to attach it to a tree or an object to get the right angle on your photo.

Attaching the small one here!

Attaching the fully extendable one here!*

*Please note that this one doesn't come with an iPhone mount, but you have the option to put one on. The smaller tripod comes with one, so I just use that mount for both tripods.

10. Pocket Knife

Well, this one is for emergencies only! I'll admit that maybe this isn't essential for Day Hikes, but Zach carries one out of peace of mind (and tradition).

The old me would say it's also for Zach to spontaneously carve our initials into trees, but I care a little too much about our Parks to do this anymore. Our parks are beautiful and for everyone to enjoy, but they are also to be preserved. I vowed to "Leave No Trace," and you should, too.

What to Pack for a Day Hike

What else do you bring on your Day Hikes? Let me know!

Screenshot or save my Day Hike Packing Checklist Below!

Day Hike Packing Checklist


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